> Linux Man Page: "tree"


Search with Google


The Linux Documentation Project maintains an archive of snaphots of the (English language) core Linux manual pages that are maintained by Michael Kerrisk. Corrections and additions are welcome, but review the "Help Wanted" list, first.

Man pages belonging to programs are usually distributed together with those programs. Therefore, the core Linux man-pages mainly contains the pages for system calls and library routines, special devices, and file formats. However, it also contains documentation for a few programs, in cases where the authors or maintainers of the program do not distribute man pages themselves.

This page is part of release 3.11 of the Linux man-pages project. A description of the project, and information about reporting bugs, can be found at


man page(1) manual page Table of Contents


tree - list contents of directories in a tree-like format.


tree [-adfgilnopqrstuxACDFNS] [-L level [-R]] [-H baseHREF] [-T title] [-o filename] [--nolinks] [-P pattern] [-I pattern] [--inodes] [--device] [--noreport] [--dirsfirst] [--version] [--help] [directory ...]


Tree is a recursive directory listing program that produces a depth indented listing of files. Color is supported ala dircolors if the LS_COLORS environment variable is set, output is to a tty, and the -C flag is used. With no arguments, tree lists the files in the current directory. When directory arguments are given, tree lists all the files and/or directories found in the given directories each in turn. Upon completion of listing all files/directories found, tree returns the total number of files and/or directories listed.

By default, when a symbolic link is encountered, the path that the symbolic link refers to is printed after the name of the link in the format:

name -> real-path

If the ‘-l’ option is given and the symbolic link refers to an actual directory, then tree will follow the path of the symbolic link as if it were a real directory.


Tree understands the following command line switches:

--help Outputs a verbose usage listing.

Outputs the version of tree.

All files are printed. By default tree does not print hidden files (those beginning with a dot ‘.’). In no event does tree print the file system constructs ‘.’ (current directory) and ‘..’ (previous directory).

List directories only.

Prints the full path prefix for each file.

Makes tree not print the indentation lines, useful when used in conjunction with the -f option.

Follows symbolic links if they point to directories, as if they were directories. Symbolic links that will result in recursion are avoided when detected.

Stay on the current file-system only. Ala find -xdev.

-P pattern
List only those files that match the wild-card pattern. Note: you must use the -a option to also consider those files beginning with a dot ‘.’ for matching. Valid wildcard operators are ‘*’ (any zero or more characters), ‘?’ (any single character), ‘[...]’ (any single character listed between brackets (optional - (dash) for character range may be used: ex: [A-Z]), and ‘[^...]’ (any single character not listed in brackets) and ‘|’ separates alternate patterns.

-I pattern
Do not list those files that match the wild-card pattern.

Omits printing of the file and directory report at the end of the tree listing.

Print the protections for each file (as per ls -l).

Print the size of each file along with the name.

Print the username, or UID # if no username is available, of the file.

Print the group name, or GID # if no group name is available, of the file.

Print the date of the last modification time for the file listed.

Prints the inode number of the file or directory

Prints the device number to which the file or directory belongs

Append a ‘/’ for directories, a ‘=’ for socket files, a ‘*’ for executable files and a ‘|’ for FIFO’s, as per ls -F

Print non-printable characters in filenames as question marks instead of the default caret notation.

Print non-printable characters as is instead of the default caret notation.

Sort the output in reverse alphabetic order.

Sort the output by last modification time instead of alphabetically.

List directories before files.

Turn colorization off always, over-ridden by the -C option.

Turn colorization on always, using built-in color defaults if the LS_COLORS environment variable is not set. Useful to colorize output to a pipe.

Turn on ANSI line graphics hack when printing the indentation lines.

Turn on ASCII line graphics (useful when using linux console mode fonts). This option is now equivalent to ‘--charset=IBM437’ and will eventually be depreciated.

-L level
Max display depth of the directory tree.

Recursively cross down the tree each level directories (see -L option), and at each of them execute tree again adding ‘-o 00Tree.html’ as a new option.

-H baseHREF
Turn on HTML output, including HTTP references. Useful for ftp sites. baseHREF gives the base ftp location when using HTML output. That is, the local directory may be ‘/local/ftp/pub’, but it must be referenced as ‘ftp://hostname.organization.domain/pub’ (baseHREF should be ‘ftp://hostname.organization.domain’). Hint: don’t use ANSI lines with this option, and don’t give more than one directory in the directory list. If you wish to use colors via CCS stylesheet, use the -C option in addition to this option to force color output.

-T title
Sets the title and H1 header string in HTML output mode.

--charset charset
Set the character set to use when outputting HTML and for line drawing.

Turns off hyperlinks in HTML output.

-o filename
Send output to filename.


System color database.
Users color database.


Color information created by dircolors
Character set for tree to use in HTML mode.
Locale for filename output.


Steve Baker (
HTML output hacked by Francesc Rocher ( Charsets and OS/2 support by Kyosuke Tokoro (


Tree does not prune “empty” directories when the -P and -I options are used. Tree prints directories as it comes to them, so cannot accumulate information on files and directories beneath the directory it is printing. Probably more.

See Also

dircolors(1L) , ls(1L) , find(1L)

Table of Contents

use open software!